Over 500 arrive on small boats along remote island in last few days in 'crisis'

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The migrants arrived at the sparsely populated Dry Tortugas National Park (Image: Zuma Press/PA Images)
The migrants arrived at the sparsely populated Dry Tortugas National Park (Image: Zuma Press/PA Images)

Hundreds of migrants arriving in small boats along the remote island of Florida Keys is now a "crisis", the local sheriff has admitted.

At least 500 migrants have arrived in the last several days due to soaring inflation, food shortages and economic turmoil in Cuba and other parts of the Caribbean.

A total of 300 arrived over the weekend along with 160 arriving in other parts of the Florida Keys, according to officials.

There were also a further 30 people in two new groups of migrants found in the Middle Keys.

The migrants arrived at the sparsely populated Dry Tortugas National Park, about 70 miles from Florida Keys.

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According to the park, they were forced to close so authorities and medics could check the group before moving the migrants to Key West.

Over 500 arrive on small boats along remote island in last few days in 'crisis'The park had to close so authorities and medics could check the group before moving the migrants to Key West (Zuma Press/PA Images)

Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay has criticised the authorities response to the increase in migrants claiming they are stretching local resources.

In addition, the US Border Patrol warned the sheriff the federal response to some of the migrants arriving may have to wait a day - which has not pleased Ramsay.

Mr Ramsay said: "Refugee arrivals require a lot of resources from the Sheriff’s Office as we help our federal law enforcement partners ensure the migrants are in good health and safe.

"This shows a lack of a working plan by the federal government to deal with a mass migration issue that was foreseeable.”

Over 500 arrive on small boats along remote island in last few days in 'crisis'Jorge Yunier Cepa Sanchez, 22, used a compass to lead one of two groups of Cuban migrants from Matanzas (Zuma Press/PA Images)

Officials said they expected Dry Tortugas National Park to be closed for several days because of the space and resources needed to attend to the migrants.

In a statement the park said the increase of migrants has caused difficulties for the local area.

They said: “Like elsewhere in the Florida Keys, the park has recently seen an increase in people arriving by boat from Cuba and landing on the islands of Dry Tortugas National Par."

The national park, which attracts scuba divers and snorkelers for its coral reefs, nesting sea turtles, tropical fish and shipwrecks, is also visited by tourists.

According to the US Customs and Border Protection, 160 other migrants arrived in the Middle and Upper Keys over the weekend.

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US Border Patrol and Coast Guard crews patrolling South Florida and the Keys have been experiencing the largest escalation of migrations by boat in nearly a decade with people mostly from Cuba and Haiti.

Liam Buckler

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15.07.2024, 17:44 • Investigation